Passing grade.

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge tasked us with “exploring the elements of earth, air, water, and fire through the landscapes that surround us.”

Sometimes I find landscapes challenging – either my focus is off or the shadows are harsh or my composition is bland – so I was actually going to skip this challenge since I hadn’t produced a photo I was happy with.

Then, I scrolled through a batch of pictures I’d made during a trip to the beach with my family a couple of weeks ago. On the morning we arrived at Port Burwell, the sky was overcast and the air was still, rendering the water as a flat, pale sheet. There was a haze in the distance and a row of wind turbines stood ghostly and motionless further along the shoreline.

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My photos, then, were flat and muted – I usually prefer more colour and contrast – but I liked the simplicity of this one.

In terms of the photo challenge: earth and water are accounted for (check and check), the static wind turbines imply only the potential of wind (I’ll give myself half a mark for that), and fire is absent (zilch).

2.5 out of 4 will have to do 🙂

Carved out.

Today I did something I wouldn’t normally do.

I went to the beach.

In the winter.

I like beaches. A lot. But I don’t really like winter. In my mind, the two just don’t go together. The beach is for hot weather. Warm breezes and sun and sweat. Winter is for… well, I don’t know what winter’s for. I will find any excuse not to leave the house between November and March.

Today, inexplicably – maybe just out of gratitude that I’m finally bidding adieu to my nasty cold – I willingly spent a couple of hours outside, beside a large body of water, while the temperature hovered at -15 degrees with the windchill (yes, I know, besides being an act of insanity for someone like me, this also seems like a recipe for getting sick all over again. I’ll definitely get a finger-wag from my Mom).

The beach, even this small one, has a totally different vibe in the winter – windswept and deserted, vast and lonely. The light is pale and weak. The icy crust on the sand and crackles beneath your feet. The trees are stark and bare, the snack bars are clammed up, the swings on the playground creak in the wind.

I grabbed a couple of nice shots near the water, which I’ll share tomorrow. My surprise gift, carved into a tree stump, was discovered while walking a paved trail along the water:

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And when I looked up, there was another one:

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I followed the path from one carving to another.

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By this time my hands and nose were frozen, so I made my way back home, pleased to have stumbled upon unexpected tree stump art and also pretty proud of myself for willingly going outdoors in February.

Once there, Google led me to this article and this article, where I learned that these carvings are the work of Bill Le Blanc, a retired steelworker, who discovered his talent seemingly by accident.

Maybe all of us have a gift, just waiting to be revealed, in the right space and at the right time.

Thanks, as always, for visiting.